Monday, December 27, 2010

Light Opera Works' 'Dolly' Had Me At "Hello," But... -- Theater Review: Hello, Dolly

Theater Review

Hello, Dolly
Music & Lyrics by Jerry Herman
Light Opera Works
at Cahn Auditorium, Evanston
Thru January 2, 2011

For a long time, Hello, Dolly has probably been the most popular, famous and best musical that I had never seen on stage.

So back in August, when I saw a phenomenal production of Carousel by Light Opera Works and heard that they would be doing Hello, Dolly at year's end, I instantly marked it on my calendar.

I didn't actually buy a ticket until last week when it showed up on HotTix, but was avid enough to get one for the opening Sunday matinee, meaning I would miss half of what turned out to be a damn good Bears game.

So my expectations were quite high and while this production of Hello, Dolly didn't quite exceed them, the worst I can say is that it was excellent.

As usual, Light Opera Works had tremendous production values, all the more notable since 'Dolly' was a typically-limited 8 show run at Northwestern's Cahn Auditorium, not a venue that LOW owns. Still, the frequently-changing scenery was impressive enough as it accompanied a 30-person cast and 22-member orchestra.

Mary Robin Roth was very good as Dolly Gallagher Levi and Peter Verdico made for a suitably ornery Horace Vandergelder, although to me they felt a bit too much like 'close but not quite' duplications of Barbra Streisand and Walter Matthau from the 1969 film version.

Jerry Herman's score (he also wrote the lyrics) has many great songs that translated into exuberant production numbers, often with superlative choreography (by Rudy Hogenmiller, who also directed), including "It Takes A Woman," "Put On Your Sunday Clothes," "Dancing," "Before The Parade Passes Me By," "Elegance," "Hello, Dolly" and "It Only Takes A Moment."

Photos from
With all these highlights, in sum the show couldn't help but be deliciously enjoyable, but the many peaks made some of the songs & scenes in between seem rather dull.

Instead of keeping a smile on my face from beginning to end, the truly toes-a-tapping parts of Hello, Dolly were a bit too intermittent. This itself isn't the fault of Light Opera Works, but while many of the actors and their voices were quite good, very few were transcendent and a couple even lagged.

So while both the source material and this production of Hello, Dolly are excellent, well worth your time and--especially via HotTix--your money, I wasn't quite as enthralled as I was hoping nor dazzled the way I was by Carousel. So though I mean it as a laudatory recommendation, I almost feel sheepish giving it just @@@@.

Still, it's nice to have Dolly back where she belongs. And all-in-all, looking swell.

No comments: